The Straits Times recently ran an article "About 5,400 jobs on offer in food sector despite pandemic". However KF Seetoh, Singapore top chef and founder of Makansutra, felt that the appropriate title should have been "5.4k jobs on offer in Food sector that nobody is hard up for, since April".
While KF Seetoh supports the creation of jobs, he shed light on how these job offers for blue collared work in the F&B industry involve basic cooking preparations and maintaining kitchen cleanliness. These offers would be a mismatch for Singaporeans who have been brought up to aspire for higher goals, or educated and trained in skills for another industry.
The current Manpower policy states that at least three Singaporeans need to be hired before a qualified foreigner can be hired. He shared how numerous restaurateurs and hawkers who are struggling to look for local workers who want fair and even above fair wage. To make matters worse, F&B outlets need to pay monthly levies of up to $1,000 for each foreign staff.
These restrictive Manpower policies will only kill off more F&B outlets, and ironically those laid off staff will end up being offered blue collared jobs in the F&B industry again.
KF Seetoh called for a rethink into these policies and recommends ringfencing certain industries to allow aspiring entrepreneurs to blossom with the aid of qualified regional foreigners. One way would be to remove the levy and local-foreign quota for such industries since Singaporeans are not even looking for such jobs in the first place. This will help the local hawkers and F&B players from shuttering up due to manpower woes.